Saturday 23 September 2017

Cooke demands focus as buoyant Drogheda aim for top spot

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

MICK COOKE has had to revise his expectations drastically upwards, having come into this season expecting to be in a scrap for sixth place.

Drogheda United could finish next weekend on top of the League of Ireland Premier Division if they beat Sligo Rovers for what would be their seventh consecutive win.

They may have made hard work of Friday's win over UCD, but their squad of journeymen are now firmly in the title race.

A long-suffering former manager of Monaghan United who was brought in by Drogheda with a shoestring budget 18 months ago, Cooke is enjoying life at the right end of the table.

"It's better than being bottom," he said with a smile. "I have no fears of going top and I don't think the lads have, either.

"In the last few weeks we have gone to Derry, Pat's and Shels and won. They are all different types of games. The mindset has to be right.

"We'll approach the Sligo match like all of the others.

"Realistically, our aim is still to finish in the top four. Sligo have a strong squad and Rovers and Pat's are still there. If we finish in the top four, I will be quite happy."

Cooke does not think their elevated position will affect his players' mindset.

"The lads are enjoying it for what it is and there are no high fives in the dressing-room. Their feet are on the ground and they enjoy it for what it is," he said.

"Everyone was expecting us to be in the bottom half of the table, but we have shown what we can do this year.

"We got a lesson against UCD and that's no harm. It quantifies to the lads that we can't take our foot off the pedal. We're not a team that can go out and underestimate anyone."

Meanwhile, UCD boss Martin Russell has admitted that midfield ace Paul Corry is unlikely to be still with them come the end of August.

Another product of the Belvedere academy, Corry was watched by a host of UK scouts again on Friday night, when he produced another classy display.

The midfielder has already turned down opportunities to go to England, and with Peterborough and Pat Fenlon's Hibernian among his suitors, he looks set to make the move shortly now that he has successfully completed his studies.

Irish Independent

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